Let’s never stop thinking about the future: The connections between permaculture, Japanese design and homesteading in a frugal future.
The world has changed immeasurably over the last thirty years, with ‘more, bigger, better’ being the common mantra. But in the midst of this constantly evolving world, there is a growing community of people who are looking at our history, searching for answers to issues that are faced everywhere, such as energy, water, materials, food and population crisis.
In “Just Enough, ” author Azby Brown turned to the history of Japan, where he finds several lessons on living in a sustainable society that translate beyond place and time. This book presents a compelling argument around how to forge a society that is conservation-minded, waste-free, well-housed, well-fed and economically robust, including what Edo Period life has to offer us in the global battle to reverse environmental degradation.
In contrast, Retrosuburbia, by David Holmgren shows how the Australian suburbs can be transformed to become productive and resilience in an energy descent future. It focuses on what can be done by an individual at the household level with examples from ‘Aussie Street’ story and real life case studies to support and enhance the main content.
Su Dennett and Virginia Solomon have been living and promoting a sustainable households at their respective Melliodora and Eco resilience households and wider community activities including the Hepburn Relocalisation Network, Permaculture Australia, Holmgren Design & permaculture education to name a few. Virginia has also travelled multiple times to Japan, including meeting Azby and connecting all of the interview members here today on behalf of Permaculture Australia.
Video 1: Introduction and welcome from Virginia Solomon, Permaculture Australia
Video 2: Full video interview Azby Brown, Su Dennett, David Holmgren & Virginia Solomon
For more information:
Azby Brown is a native of New Orleans, and has lived in Japan since 1985. He is a leading authority on Japanese architecture, design, and environmentalism, and the author of many influential books and articles, including The Very Small Home (2005), Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan (2010), and The Genius of Japanese Carpentry (2014). He majored in fine art and architecture at Yale University, graduating in 1980. In 1985 he was named a National Foreign Scholar by the Japanese Ministry of Education, which supported his graduate studies in architecture at the University of Tokyo. His creative work has been widely exhibited at galleries and museums internationally and he is a sought after speaker on Japanese culture.
Su Dennett is David Holmgren’s partner in life and livelihood. After many years managing the business, Su is now focusing more of her prodigious energy and passion in the kitchen and community than in the office. The vegie box scheme she initiated with local organic farmer Rod May, and her own innovative approach to bulk food purchase and distribution supports regional producers. While she remains active in the Holmgren Design (HD) office and business management she now spends as much time in community events and organising mainly through Hepburn Relocalisation Network (HRN), a transition initiative that she started in 2006 with Maureen Corbett. In 2013 she was one of two women added to Hepburn Shire Council’s Women’s Honour Role for her community work and leadership in pursuing a low impact, simple lifestyle. At Melliodora, Su’s morning and evening hour with her milking goats is her “time out.”
David Holmgren is best known as the co-originator with Bill Mollison of the permaculture concept following the publication of Permaculture One in 1978. Since then he has developed three properties, consulted and supervised in urban and rural projects and presented in Australia and around the world. His writings over those three decades span a diversity of subjects and issues, including his recent book Retrosuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a resilient future. At home (Melliodora in Hepburn, Central Victoria), David is the vegetable gardener, silviculturalist and builder. David is respected for his commitment to presenting permaculture ideas through practical projects and teaching by personal example, that a sustainable lifestyle is a realistic, attractive and powerful alternative to dependent consumerism. David is a life member of Permaculture Australia and is about to release Our Street, a children’s permaculture book co-authored with Beck Lowe.
Virginia Solomon has been involved with permaculture since the early 1990s. Since 2003 she has been worked on the Accredited Permaculture Training (APT), is a founding member of the Permaculture Educators’ Guild and passionate advocate for quality permaculture education. She has been a previous Board member and President of Permaculture Melbourne (now Permaculture Victoria), convenor of the Australasian Permaculture Convergence in 2005, and is the current Chair of the PA Board of Directors. She lives in NE Melbourne and has a large, productive garden and a rambling friendly house where visitors and guests are always welcome. She is a patchworker, a cheesemaker, an eco-dying enthusiast, a shoemaker (only for herself) and a dressmaker.
Additional texts and resouces referred to in the interview:
Azby Brown, Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan
Beck Lowe & David Holmgren, Our Street. A permaculture story for kids.
David Holmgren, Retrosuburbia: The Downshifters Guide to a resilient future.
David Holmgren, Feeding RetroSuburbia: from the backyard to the bioregion
David Holmgren, Permaculture in Japan: Foreign idea of Indigenous Design?
Azby Brown, illustrations as part of his book ‘Just Enough: Lessons in living green from traditional Japan’